Back to basics
By Jon Maycock, Managing Director, Specialist Business Finance
This is a pivotal moment for the asset finance market and we have seen huge growth in the diverse pool of lenders operating in this space. Driven by consolidation and the economic rollercoaster, there are now more lenders than there has been since the early 2000s. It seems like more new entrants are entering the market every day and as a result, the industry has become fiercely competitive in an increasingly challenging economic landscape.
In light of this activity and competition it is important to not lose sight of the basics. It can be easy to get carried away with additional complexities which detract from the fundamentals of business. The basics should comprise; a valuable proposition that matches with requirement and a strong team of specialists to manage the running of the business. People are the key to a successful asset finance operation, as they initiate new business and maintain trusted working relationships. It is vital to invest in experienced asset finance professionals who understand the marketplace and the environment in which they operate. Once a sustainable offering and strong team of experts has been established, a quality service will flow from that.
As we progress into 2019, we are beginning a customer experience development programme to better our service and proposition. Our focus is on how to make better credit decisions, how to improve customer experience and how to ensure the delivery of tailored products to our customer base as best we can. In December, we hosted a broker forum to understand how we are doing and what our broker network would like us to improve. We have also started to utilise quarterly broker surveys and seek regular customer feedback. The team recently introduced broker dashboards to track proposals because it’s important to have the right digital infrastructure and capability for a good record keeping process.
Digitisation is undoubtably evolving the industry but there are significant challenges with the automation of customer service. Often, an enormous amount of resource and time can be spent on trying to make something simple work and this can detract from immediate customer delivery. At HTB, we focus our attention on specialist lending and delivering excellence through specialism in our chosen markets. We believe that our work is reflected in good people, providing a great service. Sometimes, this means having a team member answer the phone and provide a polite and efficient service, this is also provides an opportunity to speak to the end customers. Delivering a solutions-led approach in our niche markets is central to our strategy.
At HTB, we strive for a balance of achieving considered and sustainable growth with an emphasis on doing things right and focussing back in on the relationships with our stakeholders and customers. So, while it is important to bring innovation and new technologies on board, it is the basics that are central to our strategy; delivering a high quality service, ensuring quick response times, providing clear information and documentation and paying customers and suppliers promptly. Above all, we are about relationships and so whilst we have invested heavily in digitisation and strive to develop systems that make life better for everyone, we like to talk. Investment in a new state of the art telephony system is just one part of this – we make sure we keep regular phone contact with customers because it’s the human touch that matters most.